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Meeting the Challenge: Positive Culture in Women's Facilities

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 69 Issue: 4 Dated: August 2007 Pages: 68-70
Joanie Shoemaker
Date Published
August 2007
3 pages
This article discusses how the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility facilitates and maintains open communication and a positive culture within the prison.
Institutional culture is paramount to the success of any correctional institution, particularly women’s institutions. The author argues that creating a positive institutional culture that fosters open communication between offenders and staff will increase safety and security without the need for additional staff of electronic monitoring technology. Four components are considered key to creating and maintaining a positive institutional culture: (1) staff training; (2) staff and offender communication; (3) handling misconduct; and (4) maintaining accountability. Staff training is particularly important to women’s correctional facilities so staff is properly trained on how to respond to female offender’s unique needs and issues. Also paramount to creating a positive prison culture is open communication between staff and offenders. Indeed, staff members are expected to be in the living units and available to offenders at all times and any written communications from staff must be answered in a timely fashion. Similarly, offender grievances are handled quickly and each and every grievance is investigated. Only grievances found to be completely fabricated will result in offender punishment. Finally, it is important to immediately address any problems or concerns of both offenders and staff in order to maintain a positive culture. Staff members must maintain a delicate balance of professionalism and personal communications with female inmates in order to foster a positive, professional, and safe institutional environment.